Archive for August, 2012

Targeted for Conversion

So I’m sitting on my lunch minding my own business at work doing some personal email and looking at Facebook when my phone chimes… it’s a message on Google Talk from an acquaintance of mine. “Hey man, how’s it going?” he says as it’s Tuesday and a day that he normally has free at his work and at times we chat back and forth about general things but mainly the message board that I help administrate and he participates on. We go back and forth in friendly conversation and then out of the blue he hits me with wanting to talk about biblical doctrine; something I am very well versed on but I choose not to discuss. Being a friend and not wishing to be rude I humor him and answer a couple questions he has and then the real intent comes through… “You’re talking like a true Calvinist and deep down I think you still believe” he tells me. He continues with “You are where you are at because god wants to reveal the real truth to you and had to get that stuff out of your life that you grew up with; that Pentecostal doctrine is all feeling and emotion and I want to tell you about the real truth and right now you are raw material and god can use that to teach.”

Time out. Slam on the breaks. Did he just say what I thought he said? Reading between the lines and taking the spit and polish off of it basically he said I was raised wrong and all of that stuff you learned and studied and the life you lived was a lie but hey, I have the market cornered on truth and even though you’ve made it clear you want nothing to do with god and religion I’m going to tell you anyway. My mind instantly jumped back to “The Terminator” (1984) when Reese finally finds Sarah Conner as the Terminator is getting ready to kill her and, navigating wildly down the road fleeing from the cybernetic assassin, tells her “You’ve been targeted for termination.” It was clear that I was targeted for conversion and, much like Sarah, it was whether I wanted it or not. As in my last blog I make it no secret that I am not interested in all things christian and god and religion etc but I try not to be rude rather I try to be patient, respectful of others beliefs, and as a good friend put it, I try to be prudent and not hurtful. At the same time I expect the same in return.

The discussion ended well as I tried to be polite and he even thanked me for being open and respectful as well as for my candor and I told him that I also understood his position. I reminded him that I had given thirty years of my life to going to church, twenty as a baptized believer, and thirteen as a minister and I knew as well as preached the arguments he presented and engaged in them myself when trying to convert someone. However, his position as a Baptist minister didn’t mean that I wanted his beliefs pushed on me, I wasn’t interest, and he needed to sell crazy elsewhere. He knows me as blunt and truthful and took it as I meant it which wasn’t an insult but rather a “I’ve mentioned it nicely twice now I’m telling you” kind of thing and he backed off. I admire him for what he did, I don’t agree, but I admire him. Someone who feels passionately about what they are doing/living/believing needs to be proselytizing as Penn Jillette said:

“ I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward—and atheists who think people shouldn’t proselytize and who say just leave me along and keep your religion to yourself—how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?

“I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.”

That’s exactly how I see it. He’s a Christian and a Baptist minister as well as a friend so he was doing what he knows to do out of concern and I don’t fault that but where I start to have the issue is when it is clearly made known that it is unwelcome but yet it continues to be forced.

In April of 2009 The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life published a poll on reasons why people leave their childhood faith. Of the 2,867 people polled 1,894, or 44%, are not affiliated with their childhood faith and broken down further 360 of those polled, or 7%, who were raised Protestant are now unaffiliated and as I was a Protestant that will be the area of the poll I focus on.  When we get into the why’s 71% say they just gradually drifted away, 50% just stopped believing, and 36% were unhappy with the bible’s teachings… check me on all of those. I have a deeper more personal reason why all of these happened which I do not feel the liberty to share outside of a certain group of people. Suffice it to say it was a very deep emotional decision and a hard fought battle that made me change my mind and, though I’m still looking for more detailed polls, I firmly believe that many who came to these same conclusions as I did probably went through the same battle I did.

Those of us who choose not to be religious are looked at as if we cook and eat babies, I’ve seen us referred to as liberals and communists (I happen to be conservatively libertarian actually), we are told we have no joy or peace, told we don’t know what we believe, and worse yet that we must be angry at someone be that a church member, family member, preacher/minister, or the christian god himself. None of these could be further from the truth and personally I resent it when people pronounce such on me or others who think like I do. Are there some unbelievers who are angry for some reason? Of course there are but I have equally met angry believers too. We have also been referred to as un American since obviously America is a Christian country (wrong) and our Founders were Christian (wrong again) so if we don’t want to be involved in church and we don’t want church and god involved and mentioned in everything that’s done in America then we must be un American and silenced.

We won’t be silenced actually. Most of us just want to live our lives as we see fit without others pushing their beliefs on us or being told our lives aren’t complete simply because we don’t believe what you believe. Worship your god, read your bible, give to your church and most of all live your life but in regards to the latter… let us do the same in peace and if we want to learn about what you believe we will ask.


The Blame Game

I tend to keep my innermost thoughts to myself in regards to religion but at the same time I make it no secret that I no longer attend church at all, believe strongly in church and state separation, and that I question religion as a whole. Living in the “Bible Belt” as it is affectionately called does present some difficulty as does the fact that my whole family is of the Christian faith so I tend to be the black sheep; not that I have been called that as I have a fantastic family & beautiful wife but it is what it is no sense in beating around the bush.

The thing that gets me the most, and unfortunately when I was Christian I did this too, is that when someone who is a believer finds out that you are not religious and don’t go then the spiritual diagnosis begins. Things like “you must not know what you believe” or “you need some peace in your life that’s all” or even better “why are you angry at god and/or the pastor” but even better still “perhaps we can talk about this when you’re not mad.” They all are extremely closed minded statements but the last one really takes the cake as far as placing the blame on the person who dares question religious beliefs. So, I answer these questions with a question… why must it always be the doubters fault? and to take it even further why do people feel the need to make it their fault rather than just let them find their own way whether that is back to a religious walk or of on their own.

Now before anyone thinks it, and certainly before they get made and say it, this isn’t an anti-Christian rant and I definitely don’t hate Christians and above all ‘m not mad I’m just musing. This short little blog is just to plant a thought: think before you speak and judge not lest ye be judged. Walk a mile in someones shoes and try to understand before you jump to conclusions about why they left church and religion altogether and above all love them. Don’t look at them like they have three heads and have begun eating babies and drinking blood because chances are the person that you are accusing of being angry or hating someone or something may have just had something traumatic happen that changed their whole point of view and shook everything that they were ever raised to believe.

This is coming from someone who has plenty of peace, is loving and living life to the fullest, and certainly isn’t angry at you or anyone else including your invisible friend. If you claim to be Christian or just religious for that matter then all you have to do is show it and live the love, peace, and thoughtfulness that your religion teaches you to have and let others live their life without your judging it.